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Hair Loss: When the Thyroid Gland is Behind it

Hair Loss: When the Thyroid Gland is Behind it

Medical Director Dr. Hans-Georg Dauer

10 min

May 6, 2022

Hair loss and the thyroid gland - do the two have anything to do with each other? Of course they do, a lot, actually. When hair growth falters, it is often due to a malfunction of the thyroid gland.

Whether under- or overactivity - if the thyroid gland is not in proper shape, the hair coat suffers. It becomes dull, brittle and thin.

The path to diagnosis is often long and arduous. Because when it comes to hair loss, we think first and foremost of genetics or hormones. Thyroid dysfunctions only come to mind at a later point - and wrongly so. After all, hair loss has long been considered a common symptom of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Reason enough to take a closer look at the underestimated suspect. What exactly does the thyroid gland have to do with our hair coat and how can the malfunction be remedied? Is taking thyroid hormones really enough?

Hair Loss: How Does it Occurr and What Does the Thyroid Gland Have to do With it?

Did you know that the thyroid gland has our body firmly in its grip - especially our metabolism? The reason: the thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) tell our metabolism which way to go - including our hair follicles.

Imagine: Our hair follicles are the commander of our hair growth. They are constantly giving it orders. But there is someone who confuses these orders - the thyroid gland. If it produces too few or too many hormones, the natural cycle of hair growth gets out of balance. The result is clear: hair loss.

Sounds pretty complicated? Half as bad. Why don't we look at the three natural phases of hair growth together?

  • Growth phase (anagen phase): Our hair is formed in the hair follicles. Of course, this doesn't happen overnight. On the contrary, the growth process takes several years.
  • Transition phase (catagen phase): Every growth phase comes to an end - and so does the growth phase of our hair follicles. And this end even has its own name. It is called the catagen phase. If our body stops supplying nutrients, growth comes to a standstill. In one to two weeks it has grown out.
  • Resting phase (telophase): If our body cuts off the nutrient supply to the hair follicles, they lose strength and elasticity. The inevitable happens - they fall out. But it can take quite a long time before this happens. The resting phase lasts 10 to 12 weeks.

After the dormant phase, however, the hair follicle does not remain dormant for very long. It immediately switches back to the first phase, the so-called growth phase. High time for new hair.

Fair enough. But what does the thyroid gland have to do with it? Quite simply, the hormones of the thyroid gland can interfere with the natural rhythm of the hair follicles. If it produces too many or too few hormones, the cycle quickly gets out of balance.

And this is clearly noticeable in the hair. They lack strength and stability. They are far too fine, dull and fragile. They also lack length. The accustomed level is receding into the distance. And the finer, more fragile and shorter a hair, the faster it is lost.

Hair Loss in Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)

Hypothyroidism refers to a pathological underactivity of the thyroid gland. The consequence: our body does not get enough thyroid hormones. It could very well tolerate more of both triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Lack of drive and loss of performance
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • slow pulse
  • low blood pressure
  • delayed reflexes
  • loss of appetite
  • weight gain
  • depressive moods, panic attacks, anxiety disorder
  • sluggish metabolism (often constipation)
  • noticeable sensitivity to cold
  • cycle disorders in women
  • decreased libido and erectile dysfunction in men
  • rough and dry skin
  • unusual rhythm of hair growth (faster but less vigorous)
  • weak hair structure (dry, brittle, and dull hair)
  • hair loss (hair follicles enter the resting phase earlier and fall out faster)

And how does hypothyroidism actually develop?

Inflammation of the Thyroid Gland

In adults, hypothyroidism is usually related to chronic thyroiditis. And this in turn is caused by an autoimmune disease, also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

Enlarged Thyroid Gland

It is not uncommon for hypothyroidism to be the result of an enlarged thyroid gland. In this case, the term goiter is used. Directly below the larynx, the walnut-sized organ nestles around the trachea. If this walnut-sized element outgrows itself or forms nodules, it does so for a very specific reason: it is trying to compensate for an iodine deficiency.

If the thyroid gland receives too little iodine, it can no longer produce sufficient hormones. And of course it can't let this deficit sit on its hands. It immediately wants to compensate for the deficiency: Its plan is to increase its size.

Good to Know

Hypothyroidism is known as a typical female disease. In men, they occur only extremely rarely. By the way, it affects middle-aged women particularly frequently.

Especially after childbirth, many women report temporary hypothyroidism. On average, four to ten women out of every 100 are affected. The good news is that hypothyroidism usually resolves itself.

How can Hypothyroidism be Diagnosed?

Hormone- and blood tests are the be-all and end-all in diagnosing possible hypothyroidism. The analyses reliably provide information about potential misdirection of the thyroid gland.

Hair Loss in Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)

It's not just an unmotivated thyroid that makes our lives difficult. We don't necessarily have it easier with an overly motivated thyroid gland. On the contrary: if it secretes the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) in excess, we suffer from hyperthyroidism, a pathological overactivity of the thyroid gland.

We must expect these symptoms in the case of hyperthyroidism:

  • inner restlessness
  • trembling
  • increased heart rate: racing heart during low physical activity or even at rest
  • overzealous metabolism with noticeably high stool frequency
  • weight loss despite normal food intake and attacks of ravenous hunger
  • hypersensitivity to heat
  • sweating
  • goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
  • altered hair growth (faster, but less vigorous)
  • Hair loss (hair becomes brittle and is lost more often)

Now we know the symptoms. Now let's move on to the causes. What are the most common triggers?

Autoimmune Disease

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Graves' disease. However, autoimmunity of the thyroid gland is just as conceivable. In other words, the thyroid tissue works independently, so to speak.


Occasionally, drugs are also behind the hyperfunction. If the patient takes thyroid hormones, so-called thyrotoxicosis factitia, the thyroid gland often works at full speed - often even more than we would like.

How can Hyperthyroidism be Treated?

In most cases, the physician suggests drug therapy for the hyperfunction. Only in particularly severe cases does he recommend surgery.

Hair Loss Due to Thyroid Medication

You're treating hyperthyroidism with medications like L-thyroxine and suddenly you're suffering from hair loss? This is no coincidence. Because no matter whether thyreostatics, carbimazole, thiamazole, methyl- or propylthiouracil - all preparations against thyroid dysfunction have hair loss listed among their side effects.

Whether for the treatment of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism - in principle, all drugs that interfere with thyroid metabolism should be taken with caution. This applies to iodides and levothyroxine as well as to amiodarone and lithium.

The reason: thyroid medications actively interfere with your hormone balance. In the case of hypothyroidism, they stimulate hormone production. In the case of hyperfunction, they curb overzealous hormone production.

However, both scenarios have one thing in common: they mix up the hormones. And it is precisely this confusion that makes itself felt on our heads. In no time at all, we have to say goodbye to our thick and powerful mop of hair.

Thyroid Hormone Levels for Circular Hair Loss

Have you ever heard of circular hair loss? You haven’t? Don't worry, you are certainly not alone in this. Only very few people know about hair loss. No wonder, this is after all a particularly rare form of hair loss.

The hallmark of circular hair loss is the formation of coin-sized bald patches in the shape of a circle. Most often, these occur in the hair of the head. The exact causes of hair loss are still a mystery to scientists. Currently, a disorder of the autoimmune system is suspected to be behind the phenomenon.

Experts suspect a particularly strong connection between circular hair loss and the autoimmune disease Hashimoto's thyroiditis. When doctors link the two phenomena in a patient, they try to ensure that the thyroid hormone levels are set correctly. If these values are out of balance, there is a risk of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. And this can additionally promote hair loss.

Hair Loss Due to Malfunction of the Thyroid Gland - This is how it can be Treated

Help, something’s not right. Your hair has been thinning for days and you don't know why. It can't be due to stress. You also rule out hereditary hair loss. No one in your family has to struggle with it. So what now?

Have you ever thought about your thyroid gland? It is often the culprit. The best thing to do is to find out for sure. The next time you visit your doctor, have your thyroid levels checked by a professional - just to be on the safe side.

Your entrusted doctor will get a picture of your thyroid gland with a complete blood count and an ultrasound examination. Over- or underactivity - you'll be smarter in no time.

Is it true that your thyroid gland is doing its own thing? There's no need to panic. In most cases, you can get rid of it quickly and reliably with medication. It will be fine. Only rarely is surgical intervention necessary.

In addition to a good doctor and reliable treatment options, hair loss due to thyroid dysfunction naturally also requires a sliver of patience. It simply takes a little time for the hair to grow back to a nice, strong, full head of hair.

PRP Therapy by HAIR & SKIN: Natural Growth Booster

Has patience never been your strong point? We understand that all too well. That's exactly why we at HAIR & SKIN are happy to help your stagnant hair growth.

May we introduce you to the PRP treatment, for example? Its secret recipe is its naturalness. With nothing more than a little bit of blood, it makes the limp hair grow legs. A few milliliters are already enough.

Because exactly in these few milliliters hides a treasure chest of precious red blood cells. You couldn’t find more proteins and nutrients anywhere else. It's no wonder that your tired hair roots are eagerly pining for the protein bundle - so make sure to keep them coming.

Because as soon as they come into contact with the liquid treasures, they unleash unimagined growth powers. Immediately, the hair roots start to move. So you'll have your beloved hair back in record time.

HAIR & SKIN Hair Transplantation - A Makeover for Life

Hair is much more than just decorative headgear. It is our very personal trademark. Without it, we lose a piece of our identity. Hair loss hits us all the harder. It hurts to see our own hair dwindle.

But fortunately, we don't have to accept the loss and succumb to hair loss. We can actually do something about it. A hair transplant from HAIR & SKIN will bring back our lost treasure - forever. Because did you know that the freshly transplanted hair roots will stay with you for life?

Great news, isn't it? Only one question remains: How exactly does a hair transplant at HAIR & SKIN work?

Quite simply, at HAIR & SKIN we transplant using the FUE method, Follicular Unit Extraction. The key to its success is its particularly gentle procedure. Gently, the currently most advanced technique on the transplant market conceals bald areas in the hair coat.

The procedure: First, our experienced physicians remove individual strong hair roots from the back of the head. Then, step by step, they insert them into the thinning areas in the problem zones - until a full, buoyant and shiny coat is created.

By the way: The ideal complement to our hair transplantation is the PRP treatment. If you treat the freshly transplanted hair roots to a valuable protein treatment immediately after the procedure, their chances of survival increase drastically. And the more hair roots survive in the end, the fresher and more vital your hair will look later on.

Sounds good to you? Wonderful! Then you should definitely meet up with our HAIR & SKIN experts soon. Why not contact us today for a free consultation? We are looking forward to meeting you!